It can be difficult for even the most hardcore of superhero fans to remember what happened in all the Marvel movies. With over 20 entries in the feature-length realm - not to mention numerous shows across several streaming and broadcasting platforms - the history of the MCU is as entertaining as it is intricate, despite the occasional plot holes.
While rewatching all of the films and supplementary TV shows in anticipation of the next MCU installment could be a fun endeavor, not everyone has the time to binge all of their favorite superhero films. For those who do not have the time or mental capacity to watch 165+ hours of superhero antics, here is a summary of the MCU movies.
Virtually everything leading up to Infinity War revolves around the Infinity Stones. As Taneleer Tivan, AKA The Collector (Benicio del Toro), explains in Guardians of the Galaxy, the Stones are six singularities predating the known universe. When the Big Bang occurred, those singularities were compressed into six ingots, each containing unique and vast power:
- The yellow Mind Stone, which allows the user to manipulate minds.
- The red Reality Stone AKA the Aether, which manipulates reality.
- The blue Space Stone AKA the Tesseract, which allows for instantaneous teleportation.
- The purple Power Stone, which grants extreme power capable of destroying worlds.
- The green Time Stone AKA the Eye of Agamotto, which allows the wielder to control time.
- The orange Soul Stone, which contains an entire world within it and allows one to control the souls of the living and dead.
New York native Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is an American patriot. He desperately wants to join the Army alongside his best friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) during World War II, but is deemed too physically frail.
However, America has an ace up its sleeve with the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), a secret government organization engaging in advanced scientific experimentation. One of their scientists, Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), manages to escape Nazi Germany after being forced to develop a Super-Soldier Serum there. Under the supervision of Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and with the help of brilliant young scientist Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), Erskine is able to perfect the Super-Soldier Serum. He administers it to Rogers, making him the first (and last) successful test subject. Rogers goes from being a small, frail man to the super strong and virtuous hero, Captain America.
After Steve Rogers becomes Captain America, an enemy agent who infiltrated the SSR kills Dr. Erskine and destroys the Super-Soldier Serum, ensuring Rogers will be the last of his kind.
Initially, Captain America acts as a walking, talking propaganda machine. He goes to the front lines in Germany and acts as a mascot, inspiring the troops. But when his friend Bucky Barnes and other solders are captured by a Nazi unit calling themselves Hydra, Cap takes it upon himself to raid their stronghold.
Rogers rescues Barnes and the other soldiers, and during this rescue mission he meets Johann Schmidt, AKA Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), the leader of Hydra. Rogers learns it was Schmidt who forced Erskine to create the Super-Soldier Serum for his own personal use. The Serum was not stabilized when Schmidt demanded it, so it left him permanently disfigured... and red. Still, he has similar strengths to Captain America, making him a formidable nemesis.
The Tesseract, or the Space Stone, is the first Infinity Stone introduced in the MCU. Captain America discovers Red Skull and Hydra are using the Tesseract to create advanced weaponry with the assistance of a Swiss scientist named Arnim Zola (Toby Jones).
Steve Rogers leads his elite group of soldiers on a mission to capture Zola. Rogers's friend Bucky Barnes is ostensibly killed. Rogers refuses to believe his friend is dead and sets off on a solo mission to hunt down Red Skull.
Red Skull pilots a heavily armed bomber heading for New York, but Rogers defeats him before any real damage can be done. During their fight, Red Skull grabs the Tesseract with his bare hand and he dissolves in a bright light. The stone drops to the ocean and Rogers crash lands the plane in the Arctic. Howard Stark and the SSR later recover the Tesseract and a frozen Steve Rogers.